Successful Breakfast Booster event on Empathy in Business

Could empathy be the key for business to unlock competitive advantage, or does it compromise efficiency and performance? This was the central question during UMIO’s Break Booster on Friday 13 December. In this workshop, Dr. Lukas Figge explored the most important questions concerning empathy in an interactive and experiential way.

Empathy has two levels. The first one is about relating to the feelings and emotions that another person is experiencing. The second one, which is often forgotten, is the ability to identify and fulfil another person’s needs and thereby contribute to his or her well-being.

Empathy is a hot topic in business nowadays. Just google it and you will find many articles highlighting the benefits of empathy for innovation, employee engagement, customer satisfaction, organisational learning and financial performance. However, apply it with care. Empathy can also have opposite effects if it comes at the expense of addressing sensitive issues that are crucial to delivering results.

Sketching a theoretical framework

About 30 professionals attended the Breakfast Booster with Lukas Figge at UMIO Café in Maastricht. Lukas is lecturer in Strategy & Entrepreneurship at Maastricht University’s School of Business and Economics and works as innovator and trainer at UMIO.

After a delicious breakfast, Lukas started by explaining that empathy at best has an instrumental function in Milton Friedman’s liberal worldview: use it when it increases profits. This is in contrast to the stakeholder model, in which empathy itself has more intrinsic value. He then sketched a framework, including the work of Brene Brown on courageous leadership and the work of Marshal Rosenberg on non-violent communication. This immediately made the playing field clear to the participants.

Are we doing the right things?

The basic assumption of the framework is that every person on this planet is experiencing feelings right now. Those feelings are caused by the fulfillment or non-fulfillment of universal and life-enriching needs. As an exercise, participants then had to identify and share their own feelings and needs of the moment.

This was followed by a group assignment. In groups of five, they explored and discussed benefits and downsides of empathy. The term effectiveness came out remarkably often in the results, for most groups as an advantage of empathy and for some groups as a disadvantage. Apparently, empathy has a lot of influence on effectiveness and therefore on the question ‘Are we doing the right things?’.

Unlocking collaborative advantage

At the end of the session, Lukas explained that studies show that empathic care can jeopardise personal gains and benefits in competitive contexts where value capture is more important than value creation. However, it has major benefits for value creation and unlocking the collaborative advantage in organisations through the stimulation of connection, motivation and well-being.

Interesting and educational

This Breakfast Booster turned out to be an interesting and educational workshop with a group of enthusiastic professionals who were really working with each other and with Lukas. Everyone went home (or to work) happy and satisfied, because the workshop met the following needs of the participants: stimulation, collaboration, community, joy, presence, inspiration, discovery and learning.

“Duurzame inzetbaarheid heeft niks met leeftijd te maken”

Ondanks haar relatief jonge leeftijd van dertig jaar is Dien Mueters bewust bezig met haar eigen duurzame inzetbaarheid. Dien is onderwijskundige bij Gilde Opleidingen en nam afgelopen jaar deel aan de cursus Effectief Leiderschap van UMIO. Wij spraken met Dien over de cursus en over duurzame inzetbaarheid.

Als studente Bestuurskunde aan de Radboud Universiteit in Nijmegen bekleedde Dien meerdere bestuursfuncties. Met die bagage rolde ze zes jaar geleden het onderwijs in. Na twee jaar bij het Citaverde College stapte ze vier jaar geleden over naar Gilde Opleidingen.

Samen blijven ontwikkelen

Dien Mueters.

Duurzame inzetbaarheid heeft niks met leeftijd te maken, vindt Dien. “Het heeft voor iedereen toegevoegde waarde om je te blijven ontwikkelen, want de organisatie waarbinnen je werkt ontwikkelt zich ook”, legt ze uit. “Ik ben dertig jaar, dat is relatief jong. Toch merkte ik dat ik met zes jaar werkervaring anders de cursus Effectief Leiderschap instapte dan voorheen in de collegebanken. Ik kon de theorie nu direct toepassen in de praktijk, dat is heel anders dan alleen maar theorie absorberen.

Er verandert veel, zeker in het onderwijs: wetgeving, demografische ontwikkelingen, noem maar op. Ook wordt tegenwoordig anders lesgegeven; er is veel meer interactie dan vroeger. Ik moet zicht houden op die veranderingen en erin meegaan.”

Belangrijke factoren

Naast de continue ontwikkeling van kennis en vaardigheden vormen gezondheid en vitaliteit ook een belangrijke factor bij duurzame inzetbaarheid. Welke factor vindt Dien het belangrijkste? “Ik vind gezondheid en vitaliteit een hygiënefactor om überhaupt te kunnen functioneren”, antwoordt ze.

“Maar je gezondheid heb je slechts voor een deel zelf in de hand. Ik probeer gezond te eten en voldoende te ontspannen. Ik werk meer dan fulltime en kies tussendoor bewust voor ontspanning. Dat doe ik onder meer door te tennissen en te hardlopen. Als je de factor gezondheid en vitaliteit op orde hebt, komt de ontwikkeling van kennis en vaardigheden om de hoek kijken. Je wilt immers van toegevoegde waarde blijven voor je organisatie. Mijn deelname aan de cursus Effectief Leiderschap draagt daaraan bij.”

Veel vrijheid

Volgens Dien faciliteert Gilde Opleidingen zijn medewerkers goed op het gebied van duurzame inzetbaarheid. “Ik krijg veel vrijheid en vertrouwen om dit zelf in te vullen. Denk daarbij aan vrije tijd en een vergoeding om een opleiding of cursus te kunnen volgen. Ook kan ik korting krijgen op sportabonnementen en deelname aan sportevenementen. Ik stel al die mogelijkheden op prijs en ze vergroten ook mijn betrokkenheid bij de organisatie. Zo snijdt het mes aan twee kanten: ik haal het meeste uit mezelf, blijf gemotiveerd en betrokken, waarmee ik mijn waarde voor de organisatie vergroot.”

Effectief leiderschap

Dien kijkt met een positief gevoel terug op haar deelname aan de cursus Effectief Leiderschap. “In mijn werk moet ik af en toe leider zijn en daarvoor kreeg ik bruikbare instrumenten aangereikt”, geeft ze aan. “Het is een praktische cursus waarin de theoretische onderbouwing verweven is. Dat beviel me goed. Het meeste heb ik geleerd van de spiegel die we regelmatig kregen voorgehouden. Hierdoor zag ik hoe ik met mijn houding en gedrag anderen in mijn werkomgeving beïnvloed. Dat is vaak herkenbaar, maar soms ook confronterend. Het zorgt ervoor dat ik situaties uit het verleden beter snap en in de toekomst meer grip heb op bepaalde situaties.”

“De deelnemers kwamen uit allerlei verschillende sectoren”, vervolgt Dien. “Maar toch werd snel duidelijk dat we allemaal tegen dezelfde uitdagingen aanlopen binnen ons werk. Hoe ga je om met weerstand? Hoe zet je een verandering in? Hoe ga je om met die collega die niet lekker in zijn of haar vel zit? Dat was een mooi verbindend element tijdens de cursus.”

Loop je ook tegen vraagstukken aan op het gebied van persoonlijke ontwikkeling of organisatieontwikkeling? Neem dan vrijblijvend contact met ons op. We bekijken graag samen met jou en/of je organisatie welk programma of maatwerktraject het beste aansluit bij jouw/jullie uitdagingen.

MaastrichtMBA releases EuroMBA Online track

As of 1 January 2020, MaastrichtMBA expands its successful international executive MBA programme with an online track, called EuroMBA Online. The structural design of this track is based on 25 years of experience acquired within the EuroMBA; one of the first MBAs managed by six European partner universities, including Maastricht University. Parts of the existing EuroMBA programme structure will be revised and copied into MaastrichtMBA. The current independent EuroMBA consortium and programme will cease to exist and the EuroMBA consortium will be dissolved.

Increased flexibility

The EuroMBA Online track will consist of ten online courses, complemented by three residential weeks on campus. Students follow one week of classes at Maastricht University and decide where to spend the other two residential weeks. They can choose from four partner universities.

MaastrichtMBA’s new EuroMBA Online track will run in parallel with the programme’s current Executive track, which offers participants eight educational weeks in a face-to-face format. The online track allows participants greater flexibility when travelling around the world or while working from a remote location, which for some professionals will ease the balance between work, study and private life.

Quality assured

MaastrichtMBA is part of UMIO, the executive branch of Maastricht University’s School of Business and Economics. With a Triple Crown accreditation from the international quality assurance bodies AACSB, EQUIS, and AMBA, the business school enjoys maximum international recognition as part of a select group of 1% of all educational institutes worldwide. The MaastrichtMBA programme is also acknowledged by the Dutch-Flemish accreditation organisation, NVAO.

MBA students who successfully complete the new EuroMBA Online track starting at 1 January 2020, will thus receive an MBA diploma from Maastricht University that is officially recognised by the Dutch Ministry of Education.

UMIO’s Service Science Factory onderzoekt draagvlak voor tweetalig onderwijs

Is er in Limburg een voedingsbodem voor het aanbieden van Nederlands- én Duitstalig onderwijs op vmbo-niveau, nu en in de toekomst? Dat onderzoekt Service Science Factory (SSF) sinds begin oktober in opdracht van Provincie Limburg. Begin december presenteert het verantwoordelijke projectteam de onderzoeksresultaten.

Waarom dit onderzoek?

Duits is een belangrijke taal in Limburg. Werkgevers aan beide kanten van de grens zitten verlegen om tweetalige werknemers. En waar elders in Nederland het vak Duits afneemt in populariteit, blijft het in Limburg een stabiele factor binnen het middelbaar onderwijs. Op sommige Limburgse scholen neemt de populariteit zelfs toe.

De invoering van tweetalig onderwijs binnen het vmbo zou op termijn kunnen zorgen voor een betere aansluiting van vraag en aanbod op de Euregionale arbeidsmarkt. Aangezien Provincie Limburg een goed onderbouwde beslissing wil nemen over dit vraagstuk, is Service Science Factory (SSF) gevraagd om het te onderzoeken. 

Wie voert het uit?

Service Science Factory (SSF) is onderdeel van UMIO, de onderwijstak voor professionals van Maastricht University’s School of Business and Economics. SSF is uniek vanwege zijn eigen methode om innovatieve oplossingen te ontwikkelen, genaamd Double Diamond. De oorsprong hiervan ligt in de Design Thinking-methodologie. Double Diamond bestaat uit vier fases: Discover, Define, Develop en Deliver. Tijdens dit project voor Provincie Limburg wordt vooral gewerkt in de eerste twee fases.

SSF heeft een projectteam samengesteld dat onder anderen bestaat uit masterstudenten van Maastricht University en studenten van de Hotel Management School Maastricht. Ook dr. Trudie Schils van de School of Business and Economics maakt deel uit van het team. Als projectexpert houdt zij zich onder meer bezig met de kwaliteitsbewaking en de analyse en interpretatie van data. Provincie Limburg legt als verbindende partij de contacten met scholen en andere stakeholders.

Hoe wordt het onderzoek ingevuld?

Het projectteam pakt het onderzoek holistisch aan. Dit betekent dat deskresearch wordt gecombineerd met uitvoerig kwalitatief en kwantitatief onderzoek. Deze aanpak levert een volledig en onderbouwd resultaat op.

Alle belangrijke stakeholders worden bij het onderzoek betrokken. Denk daarbij aan leerlingen, ouders, scholen, Nederlandse én Duitse werkgevers en grensinformatiepunten.

Wanneer zijn de resultaten bekend?

Begin december presenteert het projectteam de onderzoeksresultaten in de vorm van een rapport. De belangrijkste resultaten worden ook op deze website gepubliceerd.

Kick-off Fundamentals of data science programme

At the end of October, a new Fundamentals of data science programme was kicked off at the Brightlands Institute for Smart Society (BISS) in Heerlen. This programme introduces professionals to the world of data science and smart services. BISS offers the programme in collaboration with UMIO. About twenty participants attended the introductory session led by Prof. Dr. Rudolf Müller.

Maastricht University founded the Brightlands Institute for Smart Society (BISS) to connect the university’s academic knowledge and expertise in data science with societal needs. The institute is part of the Brightlands Smart Services Campus in Heerlen.

The Fundamentals of data science programme is one of the four educational programmes of BISS. Any professional interested in data science and smart services can participate.

Three topics

Rudolf Müller, who is the scientific director of BISS, made it a very interesting introductory session. In an interactive way, he dealt with three topics: Digitization, Economics of digitization and From Quantitative Methods to Data Science.

Müller explained, among other things, the differences between descriptive analytics, diagnostic analytics, predictive analytics and prescriptive analytics. He also mentioned the pros and cons of these four variants. According to Muller, the purpose of this session was to get participants to think, provide them with a framework, and help them to identify opportunities.

Important role in society

Jan Kerckhoffs is one of the participants in the introductory session. He works as a manager at Thuis in Limburg.

“We manage an online platform for (potential) tenants in Limburg”, Jan says enthusiastically. “As a result, we have a lot of online data. With the help of these data, we try to gain more insight into the rental property market in Limburg and the search behaviour of home seekers.
I participate in this programme because I am very interested in data science, which plays an increasingly important role in our society.”

Nine educational sessions

The participants of the Fundamentals of data science programme follow nine educational sessions in smart services and data science, which are essential for the understanding of the key concepts, such as Business Process Management, Data Visualisation and Artificial Intelligence.
It is also possible to choose one or more individual sessions of preference.

More information

Are you also interested in data science and smart services? Then go to the BISS website for more information about the Fundamentals of data science programme.

Breakfast Booster – Unlocking your personal and organisational creative powers

Who hasn’t participated in a brainstorm session that – in the end – was quite disappointing? You wondered if the discussion yielding few new ideas was really worth all that time and energy spent? Does this sound familiar?

PhD Candidate on the Development of Human Capital, Kim van Broekhoven (School of Business and Economics) and Strategic Designer & Innovator, Damien Nunes (UMIO) have comforting news. Van Broekhoven: “You or your team are not to blame. Research has convincingly shown that traditional brainstorming is an inefficient technique. Think about it. How many times did you have to wait for your turn? How often did you feel uncomfortable because it was a crazy idea? How often did you forget about your idea because you had to listen to other people first? What happened when your boss came up with an idea…?”


Kim van Broekhoven: “Research has convincingly shown that traditional brainstorming is an inefficient technique.”

Basic brainstorming rules

Luckily there are many other creative techniques that do unlock your personal and organisational creative powers. Kim van Broekhoven and Damien Nunes enthusiastically present them during the Breakfast Booster on October 31st 2019, at Brightlands Chemelot Campus Sittard-Geleen. Van Broekhoven’s research knowledge and Nunes’ practical knowledge form the ideal combination for this workshop.

After enjoying a healthy breakfast, the workshop leaders kick off with presenting a few basic brainstorm rules: no judgement, quantity over quality, building on each other’s suggestions and combining, changing and reordering of ideas.  

How might we…?

Eight groups are randomly formed and presented with a real-life problem.
Round one consists of clarifying the problem simply by asking the problem owner lots of questions. In the second round the power of the ‘How might we…?’ question is explored. “‘How might we…?’ is about finding possibilities, discovering options and creating a mind-set of exploration”, Nunes states. The third round is a silent brainstorming session in which everybody tries to think of ideas individually. The workshop leaders advise to use personal or professional experiences for inspiration, to think of alternatives for existing ideas, and to take different conditions into account, such as for instance more or less budget.

Eight groups are randomly formed and presented with a real-life problem.

Let’s get out-of-that-box

Van Broekhoven: “Most ideas so far are probably closely linked to the problem statement. But to come up with truly innovative ideas, we have to start thinking out-of-the-box. A technique that helps do that is reverse assumptions. This works as follows. Focus on just one term in your problem statement. If the problem statement is: ‘How to lower administrative tasks for nurses’, you could focus on ‘administrative tasks’. Write down everything that comes to mind and then reverse all assumptions. This helps you to look at the problem from a completely different perspective.” The session ends with idea mapping. All participants quickly share their ideas and map them on a matrix with the axes ‘innovative’ and ‘impact’.  

Participants’ feedback

Some participants’ feedback: “The ‘How might we…?’ question is very powerful. I really love that.” “The silent brainstorming is much more effective than traditional brainstorming.” “Today I met new people that looked at my problem from different perspectives. I was totally surprised by their ideas. I leave here enriched.” “This approach shows that speed and pressure doesn’t mean losing quality, it enhances quality.”  

The Breakfast Booster is an initiative of UMIO, the executive branch of Maastricht University School of Business and Economics. The events focus on sharing content and building a network of professionals and organisations.

Photos: Jonathan Vos

SBE researchers lead project to tackle challenges linked to technical innovations

UMIO’s high-quality learning trajectories are fuelled by research carried out at Maastricht University, in particular at the School of Business and Economics (SBE). Since the beginning of this year, 3 researchers connected to SBE have lead TECHNEQUALITY, a large European research project with a budget of nearly 3 million Euros.

TECHNEQUALITY will attempt to answer questions like ‘Will robots take our jobs?’, ‘Are we teaching people the right skills for tomorrow’s labour market?’ and ‘How will Artificial Intelligence impact inequality?’.

SBE researcher Mark Levels leads the project with the help of Raymond Montizaan and Didier Fouarge, who are also connected to SBE. The findings of this research project are expected to inform policy-makers working to support their populations through technological transformation.

Read the full article

Do you want to know more about this fascinating project? Then read the extensive article on the SBE website.

Rianne Letschert named Top Woman of the Year 2019

Last week, Prof. dr. Rianne Letschert was named Top Woman of the Year 2019 (Topvrouw van het Jaar). Rianne is not only the Rector Magnificus of Maastricht University, she has also been involved in our UMIO programmes.

The annual election of the Top Woman of the Year aims to create a platform for female board members in Dutch companies and organisations. In addition to the importance of the current position and the results achieved, the assessment criteria were courage, ambition and leadership.

Inspirational leader

Within the Maastricht University organisation, Rianne Letschert has been an inspirational leader since she was appointed as Rector Magnificus in 2016. Over the past few years, she has contributed to a number of UMIO programmes including the Fast Forward (FFWD) programme.

FFWD is a leadership development programme that helps prepare and support talented professionals in their personal and responsible leadership. In this programme, Rianne is a true source of inspiration on performance, impact and authenticity.

Leadership programmes

In addition to the Fast Forward (FFWD) programme, UMIO offers several other programmes that focus on leadership. Examples are the Executive Master in Cultural Leadership, the management programmes Coaching Leadership and Effective Leadership (in Dutch) and the module Leading Strategic Change in our MaastrichtMBA programme.

On our Programmes page, you can find a clear overview of all our programmes.

The Power of Hackathons – From Disruption to Innovation

 

Technology fuels innovation. Disruptive services and products are shaping the world. Human behaviour needs to evolve with this disruptive innovation, as does the business world. In this environment, it is vital to empathise with consumers to design services that work for them and build profitable businesses. That is where a Hackathon comes in.

Powerful Collaborations

A Hackathon is a fast-paced design sprint, which helps companies solve their business challenges in a pressure cooker environment within a very limited time frame. The purpose is to bring a tightly focused outside-in perspective to the company involved. The best ideas are often the result of powerful collaborations and a Hackathon is an example of how the School of Business and Economics not only links students with national companies, but also with ‘local heroes’, to strengthen the link with local entrepreneurs and the region.

“In business you have blind spots, and you’re not aware of any other solutions.  Students have new views, they can open your eyes” Arno Reiniers, Business Manager at Geba Trans.

Mine Kafon – A Success Story

Mine Kafon, (www.minekafon.org)  a demining company, is living proof of how a Hackathon can bring tangible benefits to business. Mine Kafon was set up by two Afghan brothers, Massoud and Mahmud Hassani, who grew up in Kabul, Afghanistan – literally in a minefield. Many years later, in the Netherlands, the brothers have developed Mine Kafon: a drone system for detecting landmines.

 

Their demining system is now ready for large-scale production. The next step is marketing. “We participated in a market research project called Value-Based Marketing. Our system is ready and we know it works. But how do we get in touch with potential customers?”

Hakathon Innovation Day

Mine Kafon, along with 6 other companies, took part in a Hackathon day organised by UMIO in February. Each company presented their business challenges to the ‘army of problem solvers’, the 150 International Business master’s students who then worked with the companies as part of the project to come up with a package of innovative solutions.

“Students are motivated and driven by new and existing ideas that they want to put into action. We’re very pleased with the results”, says Mahmud. “Essentially, we received six useful sets of insights. We’re now drawing up a strategy and taking the next step. 2019 will be a make-or-break year for Mine Kafon. This is an excellent example of how universities and industry can work together.”

 

Find out more? 

If you want to innovate in a quick and budget-friendly manner, it is Hackathon time!

Find out more about how a Hackathon can help your business innovate into the future.

Get in touch with us to connect and create an impact together!

 

How to prepare for changes that are yet to come

Society is changing at an ever-increasing pace. Globalisation, technological developments and an ageing population mean that different skills are needed in both our professional and personal lives. Employment growth areas increasingly show that leadership, teamwork and problem-solving skills are more in demand now than ever in the face of an automative and digital society. So, what does this mean for us in our day-to-day lives, and how can we best prepare ourselves for changes we don’t even know about yet?

These questions and themes were discussed at the UMIO Insights event on Tuesday 2 July, where more than 60 business professionals, entrepreneurs, academics and researchers came together to engage in these conversations and participate in a shared pursuit for knowledge and learning.

It is the second edition of this successful annual UMIO Insights event. As refreshments were served, participants had the opportunity to meet and catch up with old and new colleagues, who between them represented a broad reach of organisations from the corporate to government sectors, SME’s to non-profit and education sectors. The introduction from Marielle Heijltjes, UMIO’s Executive Director and Trudie Schils’ plenary session, set the tone for the breakout workshops which followed. Participants could choose from one of three engaging and interactive teaser sessions including; Coaching Leadership, Sustainable Employability and Digitalisation. Academic research underpinned each one led by, Lukas Figge, Martin Lammers, Gordon Miesen, Damien Nunes and Dominik Mahr.

Unlocking potential

For any company that wants to develop a sustainable competitive advantage, unlocking the full creative and human potential of its employees is key. To achieve this, it is important that people feel connected, competent and autonomous in their job and in their relations at work. Research has shown that managers and leaders play a crucial role in providing the right conditions to exhibit leadership behaviour, such as support, mentoring and coaching to promote growth and development of the people in the organisation.

Coaching Leadership is a particular leadership style that contains a specific and learnable set of competences, including establishing trust & intimacy, coaching presence, active listening and asking powerful questions. Learning these skills enhances the learning ability and flexibility of the team and organisation. By supporting colleagues to find their own solutions, this reduces the dependence of others and by spending less time solving other people’s problems, more time is available for impactful and engaging work.

Changing the perception

The concept of Sustainable Employability is a complex one. People are getting older and have to work longer. Retirement age is rising.  We are also living in a shrinking labour market. Navigating these challenges successfully requires a certain approach and mind-set. Self-development, being agile and looking at the building blocks required to influence the situation can help to create a positive and sustainable outcome. After all, what we all want out of our working lives is to be happy, motivated and inspired now and in the future.

Digitalisation and technological developments are society’s ever-increasing pacemakers. For business, it is important to keep a distinctive competitive position. Reflecting on how we might improve our productivity by applying digital technologies can help us create our own future realities. Understanding how these technologies impact us and how we can, in turn, harness this power, is an important part of the journey towards equipping ourselves with the right skills needed for the future.

Striving for continuous self-development and learning was a shared feeling amongst the participants of the UMIO Insights event. Betty Adjadi, a Researcher at Data Human Interaction Lab, was encouraged to hear how the University was involved in researching this area and asserted that taking part in this UMIO Insights event was definitely helpful for her work.

“I am very interested in education and learning. Based on my own experience, lifelong learning is always my passion and I think it’s true of everyone here. I realise that when I have the right balance, I am happier and more creative.”

Lifelong learning has always had its place in forward-thinking organisations, and investing in learning and development is shown to pay off. The Research Centre for Education and Labour Market (ROA) at Maastricht University affirms that a well-trained workforce is related to good business outcomes. Employers can better profile themselves with a positive learning culture. So, the pursuit of knowledge, constructing our own future realities, engaging in active and ongoing learning, both formally and informally, are bold and empowering objectives of the globalised society we inhabit in the 21st century. If you want to change your way of thinking, change the way you see.

So what’s next?

If you would like to find out more about how you can better equip yourself or your organisation for a successful future incorporating any of these themes; Coaching Leadership, Sustainable Employability or Digitalisation, then please take a look at these opportunities.

Coaching Leadership

Coaching Leadership management course

Digitalisation:

Sustainable Employability:
• UMIO is co-creating a unique learning journey around the topic of ‘Sustainable Employability’ together with a consortium of industry leaders. If your organisation is interested in joining our consortium, please contact Gordon Miesen at g.miesen@maastrichtuniversity.nl.